Sunday, January 2, 2011

Photography All Call



(Questions at the end of the post. Help!)


One of the things on my 2011 bucket list

is to learn more about my camera

(translation: learn how to use it beyond automatic settings).

Many people in blog land say they are self-taught photographers,

and they learned on their own through trial and error.

I thought surely I can do this.


I first began by buying books,

which is what I usually do.

I bought

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi/450D for Dummies

(offensive title)

Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Book

Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Exposure


David Busch’s Canon EOS Rebel XSi/450D.

And then my brain shut down.
I then decided my camera was broken.

I even contemplated buying a new point and shoot camera,

I felt so defeated.


I began emailing bloggers (lots of bloggers- who are the most generous people in the world).

Kat from Low Tide High Style helped greatly (in fact I bought the lens she uses-

now I just need Kat to come take the pictures).

Sarah at Memories on Clover Lane was a great help. She convinced me I needed

to leave automatic settings behind.

I then called Best Buy and made an appointment

for an hour long, one on one class.

Here is how that went.

A young woman who looked to be about 16:  “How can I help you?”

Me:  “It’s broken.”  (using sad, tragic face-handing over my camera)

YWWLTBA16:  “That’s strange. Let me take a look.”


“No… nothing seems to be wrong with the camera.”



So I went home and read more blogs,

and emailed more of you.

I read great tips on Designs by Gollum,

and then I began to play.

I bought a piece of foam board

and a display tri-fold to help with lighting

(which is poor in many areas of my house).


I bought clip on lights and daylight bulbs at Wal Mart ,

and I learned that one window is great for taking photos in the morning

and another one works better in the afternoon.

I took my camera off automatic and am now trying to

figure out my camera’s creative zones.

YWWLTBA16 said to use aperture priority for inside shots.

Again, I willed my brain to not shut down.


Although the photo above is far from satisfactory,

that is what the foam board does.

And now to my questions-if you have time.

*Do you have a set formula for setting ISO?

*How do you prevent your shots from being blurry with a higher ISO?

*Do you have a simple method for setting white balance?

*If you were in a gym with old fashioned fluorescent lights,

and you wanted to get shots of a player in action,

what lens would you use and what settings?





ChRiS said...

i just saw Tracy's blog and she bought a dummies book and is raving bout it, said is written in understanble english

Unknown said...

Crikey Laura...I got lost at the dummy book!

Theresa said...

No help from me! I use auto unless I am taking really close-ups or action:) Hope you learn what you want to know from some of our smart blog friends! All of your pictures look great to me! HUGS!

NanaDiana said...

WHATTTTT???? WHAT are you talking about? I think I am doing good if I can FIND my camera and that's all I'm gonna say 'bout that!;>) Hugs- Diana

Nancy said...

I just got my Nikon D90 in November and I am (brace yourself) actually reading the manual.

About once a week, I read about a feature I haven't used and use it -- for the week. It has really helped me understand some of my camera's millions of functions.

Pondside said...

Oh dear - I found myself looking for Google Translator about halfway through this post. Good for you for persevering with your camera. As with anything else, I will have to want great photos really badly before I will buckle down and learn how to take pictures like a pro.

Helen said...

My, I am feeling thankful for my little point and shoot. I'm really impressed with your determination ... funny post too!

Anonymous said...

Laura, you will have to excuse me, but I am busting a gut laughing...when you said that you decided that your camera was broken -- that's VERY funny. I think your orange looks incredibly delicious! Goodness, your photos are beautiful! I greatly admire your determination to learn more about your camera. It sounds like a very complicated camera.

2 Dogs said...

I have a Nikon but I have my ISO set on AUTO. I don't think most people do that. I don't get any blur in dim light. I found out about this online. I don't have my camera with me at the moment.

I also leave my white balance on auto because I like the way my Nikon makes the adjustment.

I'll try to get you more info.

Pam @ Frippery said...

My brain immediately shuts down when reading manuals or tech how too's as well. I will wait for you to reveal all secrets of not using auto settings and then I will follow. Your orange looks crisp and lovely by the way.

Dawn said...

If your camera is broke...mine doesn't even exist! Your shots are wonderful(from what I see here!!!!!).
I am saving up for a "real camera"....but am scared to even start with the manual when I do. Those things never talk in my language:))

Jayne said...

Huh... I'll tell you how I use my fancy 40D camera.... I point and shoot (though I do it in RAW) and then create the magic in Adobe Lightroom. I am not nearly talented or patient enough (esp. when trying to photograph birds for heaven's sake) to figure out what ISO or shutter speed would be best for the lighting I have. Pooie I say. Edit baby, edit in some good photo software. The end.

Nancy's Notes said...

Laura, so sorry, I'm not one to call on. You lost me with your question! I'll check back and maybe I'll learn something! I love photography and thank goodness for my trusty Canon S90, I just hold it, point at the subject and shoot.

I'd really, really love to know more about photography. You inspire me!

Good luck!

Unknown said...

Laura, have you ever tried looking for tutorials on youtube? They have tutorials on just about everything. Just type in your camera make and model and all sorts of things will come up.

Most everybody who has fabulous pictures does most of the work in a photo editing program. For me, I don't worry much about the actual first shot, just to be sure it has a good level of clarity. I then put it into photoshop or picasa and do the finessing to create the right white balance, shadowing, and sharpness.

Kim Klassen Cafe (dot com) has a lot of photo tips, and she also has a beginners class online for photo editing.

The Pioneer Woman (dot com) has tons of how-tos.

Funky Junk Interiors (dot blogspot dot com) has great photo tips to use with a point and shoot camera.

Just google tutorials for your camera style. Somebody somewhere has written about it, more than once, I assure you.

Good luck.

Low Tide High Style said...

Aww you're so sweet Laura! Your pictures always look great to me, but in answer to some of your questions here goes...and I'm no expert, I'm one of the self taught who is still learning!

1. I don't have a set formula for setting my ISO, but the general rule of thumb is that if you have a tripod, and a remote (mine is wired, not wireless) you can pretty much use whatever ISO you want in whatever lighting. That being said, if you are trying to do hand held shots in very low lighting the higher the ISO the better your shots will be because it's a faster shutter speed and doesn't require you to keep quite as still.

2. Shots "should" actually be less blurry with a higher number ISO, in other words, 1600 ISO allows for a faster shutter speed than say a 200 ISO. Again, I think the key to good clear photos is a decent tripod and a remote. If you don't have a remote you can use the self timer on your camera to prevent any shake when the camera takes the shot. Now there will be more "noise" or graininess in a photo with a higher ISO than a lower ISO.

3. I use Auto White Balance 99.9% of the time. I've used others, but I find the Canon Rebel XTI that I use does a pretty good job on the auto setting.

4. As for the gym shots, I would probably use AV setting and make sure the number is rather high, between 18 - whatever the highest aperture setting...BUT, sometimes that means a slow shutter speed and it's nearly impossible to get a good clear shot unless the room is really well lit. In that case I would probably default to an automatic setting, the Sports setting which looks like a stick figure running or swimming on your dial. What that setting does is to allow you to take shots in succession all with one button press so that out of 10 shots, one or two may be good useable shots.

As someone else said, I shoot in RAW format, which only works on the manual settings, you can still shoot using auto settings, but RAW pictures allow you a lot more manipulation in post production of your photos.

I think the biggest key to remember is that for every good shot a photographer takes, there may be 20 bad ones, until they get really good! And that a program like Photoshop or Lightroom can make all the difference in turning not so great photos into great photos!

Kat :)

Glenda/MidSouth said...

I hope to upgrade by camera this year, so enjoyed this post. The bad thing is, I never really learned to use the settings on the camera I have now. :(
Have a wonderful week!

Unknown said...

Great posts and great comments! I'm having trouble too. DVDs even came with mine and I still can't grasp what all the lingo means.
I swear with each camera upgrade, my photos get worse & need more editing. If only my first Olympic point and shoot hadn't died.

Kat said...

I have a Rebel too and I love it. But I'm just now getting around to shooting on anything other than auto. It's a slow learning curve for me, but I do refer to the manual quite a bit. The only way I can get a good clear low light shot is with a tripod. I have been shooting RAW and manipulating post shot. And I do like the Auto white balance on the Canon. Good luck, and most importantly, have FUN! Kat

Brenda Pruitt said...

I have a mere Canon Powershot G10, an under $500 camera. I am lazy and only use the Automatic setting. But after I download I immediately shift my photos to Photoshop. I don't fuss with them, just hit the quick edit at the top, and go on. We can't get perfect shots all the time. I probably delete more than I use. I don't want it to be work or I'll stop enjoying walking around my little garden with camera in tow! So I guess I'm not all that much help!

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Laura I just came by to wish you a Happy New Year and believe me when I say you would not want my help with your new toy. hahaha
I do love the determination you have for learning. Practice and more practice is what they always say but take it from this ole grandma how many out here would know a bad shot or not. lol
Sorry no help
Love you though

Privet and Holly said...

DEAR Laura, I hear
you loud and clear.
I'm actually starting
an 8 week photography
course, tomorrow! Four
hours, once a week,
with assignments. The
time is NOW. I'm just
praying that my {still
somewhat flu-addled}
brain can absorb all of
the technical info. I'm
cheering you on ~ go for
it!! Here's a toast to
great pictures in 2011
and to all of the other
wonderful things that I
hope will come your way.
Monday hugs,
xx Suzanne

Emily said...

I feel just like you do. I have a Canon EOS Rebel XS. I have not bought all of the books though. I am going to take a class this year, maybe at a community college or something. Someone explained ISO to me like this and this helped me. They said if your ISO is at 400 it's just like the old 400 speed film. I remember always looking for at least 400 speed film if I was going to take indoor photos. ISO 200 is good for outside. I use 800 inside (in a gym)sometimes and almost never use 1600 (as high as my camera goes. I use my "P" setting a lot. You can still control a lot manually on P. Umm, other than that I got nothin'. I do wish I had a Nikon instead though. I can almost always look at blogs and tell they have a Nikon and I'm usually right. They're just so clear and crisp. OH! I was going to tell you that almost EVERYONE uses some type of photo editing program. I use a free website called and I love it. I use the effects Cross Process and Ortonish a lot. It's fun too. Keep trying, your photos are very good as is.

Deb said...

I don't understand fancy photography language..I just point and shoot....lots of photos..some turn out some don't...some really surprise me when I download and start looking at them...good luck...hope you find some good tips to share with us dummies...

CHERI said...

I'd love to help ifI could but I'm in the same boat with you!!! I have a new NIKON my hubby gave me a few months back and it's still on automatic:) One of my plans for the New Year is to try to learn more about I'll be interested to hear what you learn along the way. Good luck to both of us.

Anonymous said...

I admire your tenacity. I would love to take my camera off auto but don't have the patience to experiment that it takes to break it all down. It is definitely on my to do list this year. I will keep an eye on your progress and be inspired.

elizabeth said...

i want to do better too! wish we lived closer and could learn together :)
happy new year!

Little Red Hen said...

I have a little Canon point and shoot. I don't care for it much. I am dreaming of a Nikon. I took photography in college and learned a lot of the camera lingo. However that was a million years ago. The lingo for today's Digital SLR's is much more than I can take in. I am seeing blogsters buying very professional camera's when maybe just a little step down to something just right in between the point and shoot and the beautiful professional camera. Here in the Great White North of Minnesota, we have National Camera stores. Top of the line staff and I would not buy a camera anywhere else. The huge benefit of buying from National is that they offer classes. You might check into classes either at a local college or a really great camera store. I would hate to have you have a camera that frustrates you to the point that it gets put away. Keep working it, next thing that will happen is you will be back to your blog with tutorials on how to use our cameras. YES!

Anonymous said...

I love the delete button on my camera. :)


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